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Thread: Server or Desktop

  1. #1
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    Server or Desktop

    I will be installing Hardy on a server soon and I'm probably going to install Webmin on it for administration, but everyone around here is afraid of having a server with no gui. So I will probably put something lightweight on it like Xfce. But my question is, should I install Xubuntu desktop version, or should I install the server version, then install Xfce?

    And if the recommendation is to go server version then install Xfce, then I have one more question...Do I just install xubuntu-desktop and it starts automatically on boot or is there something special I need to do to ge Xfce to start on boot?

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  2. #2
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    Will the server be headless, but accessible over the network?
    If so, I would meerly install a small lightweight window manager (such as IceWM, Flux or OpenBox) and then port it all with SSH. There would be no need for Xorg, since it will be headless.

    By the way, Xfce is not the de facto standard of being lightweight anymore.

    Dr Small
    "Security lies within the user of who runs the system. Think smart, live safe." - Dr Small
    Linux User #441960 | Wiki: DrSmall

  3. #3
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    Well, we are running Gnome on it right now, and I've heard that Xfce is lighter than both Gnome and KDE, so that's where I based by decision of Xfce on. Also, the server will be mostly headless, but it is connected to a kvm switch along with the other servers, so that's why we would need some kind of interface.

    I've heard some good things about OpenBox, so maybe I'll check that out. But anyways, it sounds like the recommendation is leaning toward installing the server version, then installing the window manager of choice. So, for example, if I wanted to install OpenBox, i would
    sudo apt-get install openbox
    and it would automatically start the window manager on boot?

    And one final question...which lightweight would you choose? I don't have any experience with any of them. I would be looking for something easy to use. Remember, the gui would be used mainly by Windows admins since I know my way around the command line and they are afraid of it.

  4. #4
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    I'm not too sure if the window manager would automatically start on boot but they can be started through the terminal easily enough e.g Fluxbox is started by the startfluxbox command.

    There are a few lightweight window managers listed and described here

  5. #5
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    I would choose IceWM. I am using it right now, and it works great for a desktop and is lightweight, so it would be perfect for a server.

    Since you say that it is connected via KVM switch, and not SSH, you will most likely need Xserver on it too, for display of course.

    It is generally not a wise idea to have a Window Manager running at startup (unless you absolutely need to), because even though it is lightweight, it will still use some small resources. If you wanted to, you could install XDM, which will load at bootup and prompt you for a Username / Password.

    This can then be configured to load your Window Manager, and will allow you to Login and Logoff as you need to.

    Dr Small
    "Security lies within the user of who runs the system. Think smart, live safe." - Dr Small
    Linux User #441960 | Wiki: DrSmall

  6. #6
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    Quote Originally Posted by deejross View Post
    everyone around here is afraid of having a server with no gui
    Yikes. If they're not comfortable using the command-line...well, whatever.

    Dr Small's suggestion is spot-on. Don't use Xfce or any other desktop environment, instead use a window manager. My favorite is Fluxbox, but why not just use the default X.Org window manager? Start an X11 session and use that. That's as lightweight as you're going to get.

  7. #7
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    I just looked at the link provided by Oak37 which related to a few different window managers and I have to say, after looking at IceWM, I think I might go with that. It's got a theme that looks like XP, so the Windows guys would be happy with that one

    But let me ask this because I've been doing some looking around and can't seem to find a definitive answer. IceWM is a window manager, and Xfce is a desktop environment. So correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read, this is the difference between the two: the window manager just manages windows. Other things like file managers, system configuration tools, a desktop with icons are all different pieces, while a desktop environment encompasses all those pieces into one product.

    If that's the case, then couldn't I install Xfce (for the lightweight applications) and use IceVM as the window manager? Would that be still be efficient, or is using any of the Xfce applications a bad idea?

    Sorry about all the questions, but I'm so used to using either Gnome or KDE where it's all built-in, I've never really messed with window managers before, so I don't know the details, but I'm interested!

  8. #8
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    Quote Originally Posted by deejross View Post
    So, for example, if I wanted to install OpenBox, i would
    sudo apt-get install openbox
    and it would automatically start the window manager on boot?
    Not exactly, since you'll still need X to handle that.

    http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/minimal has some good information on setting up command-line systems, most of it will apply to a server install as well.

    Technically, XFCE is just a window manager. If you want to install the XFCE-based DE, you'd just
    Code:
    apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

  9. #9
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    Quote Originally Posted by deejross View Post
    I just looked at the link provided by Oak37 which related to a few different window managers and I have to say, after looking at IceWM, I think I might go with that. It's got a theme that looks like XP, so the Windows guys would be happy with that one

    But let me ask this because I've been doing some looking around and can't seem to find a definitive answer. IceWM is a window manager, and Xfce is a desktop environment. So correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read, this is the difference between the two: the window manager just manages windows. Other things like file managers, system configuration tools, a desktop with icons are all different pieces, while a desktop environment encompasses all those pieces into one product.

    If that's the case, then couldn't I install Xfce (for the lightweight applications) and use IceVM as the window manager? Would that be still be efficient, or is using any of the Xfce applications a bad idea?

    Sorry about all the questions, but I'm so used to using either Gnome or KDE where it's all built-in, I've never really messed with window managers before, so I don't know the details, but I'm interested!
    Well, Desktop Environments usually come as a kit with it to make everything work. The whole 9 yards.

    But even if you install a Window Manager, you can seperately install what other application you want, such as a file manager (PcManFM, thunar) and whatever else you need seperately.

    Dr Small
    "Security lies within the user of who runs the system. Think smart, live safe." - Dr Small
    Linux User #441960 | Wiki: DrSmall

  10. #10
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    Re: Server or Desktop

    Quote Originally Posted by eriqjaffe View Post
    Technically, XFCE is just a window manager. If you want to install the XFCE-based DE, you'd just
    Code:
    apt-get install xubuntu-desktop
    That is incorrect. Xfce is a desktop environment (DE), that includes a window manager (xfwin4). You can replace the window manager in Xfce; I sometimes use it with Openbox.

    Xubuntu-desktop is a metapackage that installs not just xfce (the DE itself) but also a whole host of gnome stuff and applications that come with a full Xubuntu install (if you get the recommended packages). Compare the dependencies of xubuntu-desktop with those of xfce4.

    I generally install xfce4 rather than xubuntu-desktop, as it gives me a much faster and leaner desktop environment.

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